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Vitamin D

Did you know that vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because the body manufactures it after being exposed to sunshine? Vitamin D also promotes the intestinal absorption of calcium. It is required for normal bone metabolism and, as a nutrient, plays an important role in treating osteoporosis.

While sunscreens are necessary to block the sun’s harmful effects, they also keep your body from producing vitamin D. So, you need to turn to other sources than the sun to meet your vitamin-D requirements, such as diet or supplements.

Dietary Sources

Milk, margarine, fish (with bones), egg yolks, and even some fats are good dietary sources of vitamin D. Certain soy beverages fortified with vitamin D can provide up to 40% of the recommended daily allowance. Calcium-enriched juices, on the other hand, do not contain vitamin D.

The following table presents the vitamin-D content of various foods.

Food Serving Vitamin D (mcg)
Milk (skim, 1%, 2%, and 3.25%) 250 mL (1 cup) 2.6 to 2.8
Pink salmon, canned, with bones 125 mL (½ cup) 23
Margarine, soft 15 mL (1 tbs.) 1.6 to 2.7
Egg yolk 1 yolk 0.1
Butter 15 mL (1 tbs.) 0.1
Corn oil 15 mL (1 tbs.) 0.03
Cod-liver oil 15 mL (1 tbs.) 35

Practical Advice

If you think that your daily vitamin-D intake is inadequate, seek the advice of a health-care professional, who might recommend that you take a multivitamin to meet your needs.

Dietary Reference Intakes

Age Groups Vitamin-D Requirements (mcg/day) Tolerable upper intake level (mcg/day)
0–6 months 10 25
7–12 months 10 38
1–3 years 15 63
4–8 years 15 75
9–70 years 15 100
71 years or older 20 100
During pregnancy and nursing
All ages 15 100

The tolerable upper intake level (UL) of vitamin D is the largest quantity that does not cause health risks in most people. The more that intake exceeds the UL, the greater the risk of side effects.